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Social Good Day

September 23, 2010

Did you know that today is Social Good Day? (RED) and Mashable have gotten together and asked the question, “Can social media make the world a better place?” I have to agree with their thought that social media can be leveraged to make the world a better place. To find out more, check out their website and if you post something on Twitter about Social Good Day, tag it #SocialGood. Because people are encouraged to blog, in addition to tweeting about Social Good Day, I thought I’d share just three examples of people and groups that are using social media to better the world.

My friend, and former university colleague, Michelle Pacansky-Brock (check out her blog, MPB Reflections, here), uses social media to make the world a better place, one online class and instruction section at a time. While she is now an entrepreneur and frequent speaker at conferences and facilitator of workshops, she was (and still is at heart) a teacher. She taught art history for many years and used social media to connect with her students, to connect her students to each other, and to connect them all to the art. Her use of social networks, such as Ning, and online modules, such as VoiceThread are inspirational. The interaction, in an online environment, prove that with human connection comes inspiration and the ability to change a student’s outlook on learning. To me, that’s changing the world for the better in a profound and lasting way.

The second person that always comes to mind when I think about using social media for the social good is BJ Fogg, check out his website here. I had the good fortune to hear him speak at a conference a few years ago and was delighted to hear about using technology and persuasion (aka captology) in a positive manner. To quote from his website, “Another focus in my lab is what we call ‘peace innovation.’ We’re investigating how technology can help change attitudes and behaviors in ways that bring about global harmony.” This is a man, and his team, who understands technology, social networks, and psychology and can use them together to create something that may just change the world for the better.

Finally, in the realm of utilizing social media in positive ways to form community and “decrease world suck” is the Nerdfighter community, facilitated by the Vlogbrothers–Hank and John Green. I’ve featured many of their videos on this blog and use them in my classes. Not only is this a wonderful community whose members support each other, this is a community that does things like The Project for Awesome and positive pranking. This is one of the best examples of creating community and using social media to make the world a better place, both on an individual level and on a global scale, that I have ever seen. DFTBA! (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome)

So what does any of this have to do with librarians and archivists? Well, we all know how “library as place” is a super-important concept in the physical world and some libraries are already created digital spaces through Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, etc. But what we really need to do is somehow create real, interactive communities so that we can work together to create changes in our local communities and reach out across the world. And I’m not just talking about public libraries, but academic, government, and special libraries too–not to mention archives and museums. We have some of the most tech savvy and creative people working in our profession, it’s about time we utilize our talents in recognizable ways. We need to be leaders and not just persuade behind the scenes, although that is important too. We have access to so much information and talent, why don’t we get together and do something? Suggestions?

One way to get excited about utilizing technology in new ways is to go to a conference, and one of the best is Internet Librarian. I’ll be there next month and will be blogging. If you are going, let me know in the comments and hopefully we’ll be able to say hello in person at the conference.

Have a wonderful Social Good Day. Use the day to help someone and support a cause you believe in. The Waki Librarian will be back tomorrow.

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